It's a question I've muddled in my mind from time-to-time: what exactly does it mean to be an Angeleno?
I can tell you a few things I've learned and it's about what it isn't more than what it is:
- It is not a title bounded by birth or length of time. I was born here - east of East L.A., San Gabriel Valley and all that - but you don't have to be born here to be an Angeleno. It's not about birthright; it's about heart. Los Angeles' diversity speaks volumes of personal narratives and greater, global issues, but ultimately the adage of "home is where the heart is" remains triumphant. Even in teeth gritting moments of traffic and sardine-can bus rides, there's a love for this place that is as distinct for each individual as it is mutual.
- It is not about following a list of trends. The Los Angeles experience and what makes this place home and wonderful is that everyone has a list of their favorite places where some things match with others, but more often they don't - and that's okay. Historic movie palaces and Last Remaining Seats are staples to my summer, as are hikes in Griffith Park, museum wanderings at LACMA and MOCA, and Korean BBQ dinners at restaurants with names I can't pronounce. I enjoy watermelon agua fresca and bacon wrapped hot dogs, long for the start of football season and dressing in Cardinal & Gold (Bruins can be Angelenos too - my sister is one :)). This is my list and I'm sure yours is awesome too.
- It's not about borders. Los Angeles stretches out for miles and we really can't make up our minds on where one place begins and ends within it. To be an Angeleno is to possibly have an opinion about where one region ends or begins, but realizing that in the long run of the LA experience it doesn't matter. In fact, it is the acceptance and almost expectation of these sudden shifts from one definition to another or perhaps many at the same time, that provides the foundation for the Angeleno mindset. It's also about realizing that at any time any of this can change because it has before and it probably will again.
- It's not about celebrity. We are greatly aware of celebrity. The world at large is greatly aware of the celebrity of our city, but Los Angeles is as about celebrity as it isn't. Celebrity and its lack co-exist here - sometimes in conflict, mostly in harmony. We have the space for it, but it isn't our end all.
Being an Angeleno is existing in a constantly shifting space of definitions, a Boggle game of cultures and classes - of fact and fiction. It's about making up your own guidelines within this place and finding out how distinct you are and how similar are to others.
Here's the truth about being an Angeleno: It's however you define yourself to be and existing in a space that let's you make that decision for your own.